Washington trailed at the 2-minute warning, didn't have any timeouts and was working its hurry-up offense.
After a complete pass that was short of a first down, the head linesman, apparently missing referee's Jeff Triplette signal it was third down, had the first-down chain crew advance. This led to the box being changed to first down.
As a result, Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan, thinking he had a new set of downs, called for a long pass, which was incomplete. After that play game officials corrected the down issue, putting Washington in a fourth-and-1 situation. An incomplete pass on that play effectively ended the game.
The Giants defeated the Redskins 24-17.
NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino issued a statement Monday that play should have been stopped prior to the third down and both benches told of the correct down situation.
"Only the referee can rule and signal a first down," Blandino's statement read. "The official nearest to the down markers and chain crew, the head linesman, must wait for the first-down signal from the referee before moving the chains."
Triplette said he felt stopping the game would have given the Redskins an "unfair advantage." Blandino said regardless of the game situation, play should have been stopped to clear up any confusion.
It was unclear whether any of the officiating crew would be disciplined because of the error. The game's final score still stands.
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